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Old 03-07-2009, 12:57 PM
 
712 posts, read 1,073,586 times
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Default Weird Fun in Phoenix.

In addition to all the usual tourist sites around the valley, there are a lot of unusual and odd things to see, usually for free, that you might know about if you're a native. I'll post some of them on this thread when I can and anyone else is welcome to add some:

#1: The Phoenix Bat Cave: Each year, Phoenix plays host to a large colony of Mexican Freetail Bats which live inside a large flood-control tunnel just off 40th Street and Camelback. Each night from spring to summer they take off just after the sun sets. To get there, park in the strip mall on the southwest corner of 40th street and Camelback (there is a Wild Oats grocery store there) just before sunset, and walk north on 40th street to where the canal crosses 40th street just on the north side of Camelback. There are trails on the north and south side of the canal, walk westbound (towards the setting sun) on the north trail. (This is not a bad area, there are usually neighbors walking their dogs and people jogging and riding bikes along the trails.) There are some office buildings on your right. Just as the buildings change from office to residential, about 1/4 mile down the trail, on your right you'll see a short trail that leads you to a fenced-in flood control tunnel, with some signs describing the bat colony.

As the sun sets and it shifts to twilight, you will see a few little bats begin to fly out of the opening. Then more, and more, until they're swarming out all at once in search of the insects they feed on and bring back to their little bat-babies (they come up here to mate and raise their young). As you walk back to your car down the canal bank, you'll see them swooping across the surface of the canal, snatching up mosquitos and such.

There is another, lesser-known, exit for the bats on 24th Street, just west of the stoplight at Biltmore Drive (south of Lincoln). It is just south of the Phoenix Police Department substation and the water treatment plant, just north of the canal - look for a 6-foot diameter waterpipe that they fly out of.

The bats usually come back to Phoenix when the weather warms up (usually around April), then migrate out again in November or so, when the weather cools off.

 
Old 03-07-2009, 04:40 PM
 
Location: Inside the 101
1,520 posts, read 4,013,582 times
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I've heard about the site near 40th St. but have never seen it with my own eyes. With your detailed instructions, I'll give it a try. It sounds like it might combine well with a meal at Chelsea's Kitchen, which is on 40th St., just north of Camelback. Thanks for the tip.
 
Old 03-07-2009, 05:25 PM
 
Location: Southeast Valley
1,043 posts, read 1,508,084 times
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This doesn't qualify as weird, but an interesting place to visit in Gilbert, that a lot of people don't know about, is the Riparian Institute. It is free.
 
Old 03-08-2009, 03:52 PM
 
712 posts, read 1,073,586 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverbear View Post
I've heard about the site near 40th St. but have never seen it with my own eyes. With your detailed instructions, I'll give it a try. It sounds like it might combine well with a meal at Chelsea's Kitchen, which is on 40th St., just north of Camelback. Thanks for the tip.
Yep, the trail goes right past the Chelsea's Kitchen patio.
 
Old 03-10-2009, 12:56 AM
 
Location: Deer Valley
23 posts, read 72,822 times
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Here are a few other weird attractions in the Phoenix area:

Oddball Arizona
Oddball Arizona

More Oddball Places
Son of Oddball Valley
 
Old 03-11-2009, 09:12 PM
 
712 posts, read 1,073,586 times
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This isn't really weird or fun, but I'd like to spotlight some unusual historical sites in Phoenix - especially ones that aren't well known. Despite what some may think, we do have history in Phoenix. We just aren't very good at remembering it or caring for it.

#2 in a Series: Forgotten Cemeteries of Phoenix:

While the face of Phoenix has changed drastically, one of the few city features that is rarely paved over or demolished are final resting places. Some of these sites are long abandoned and forgotten by most:

Arizona State Hospital Cemetery, 2500 E. Van Buren Street, Phoenix, AZ (also known as Asylum Cemetery):

When I was a kid growing up around 32nd Street and Roosevelt, my friends and I were well aware of the Arizona State Hospital on 24th and Van Buren, which we understood to be a mental hospital ("...for the criminally insane!", as my friend Mike Juarez always added, with a gleam in his eyes.) For Phoenicians of my generation, "going to 24th and Van Buren" was a well known slang term for being, or going, crazy. Winnie Ruth Judd, the "Arizona Trunk Murderess" was confined there, and managed to escape several times by simply walking off the property. I remember being ushered inside by the teachers at our school, which was close to the hospital, when she escaped. (Judd was usually quickly recaptured, although for one long stretch she got a position as a caregiver for an elderly woman for several years. She never got in any trouble, was probably railroaded into taking a "guilty by insanity" plea and got a longer sentence than she would have received for 2nd or 1st degree homicide, and was eventually pardoned by Governor Jack Williams.) Although there were some genuinely dangerous people incarcerated there, and some of the patients had been committed by court order or against their will, the Hospital was actually the oldest and largest provider of mental health services in the Valley and helped care for many.

On the north side of the hospital was an old, closed cemetery, where patients who had died were interred. It was enclosed by a high storm fence, but neighborhood scuttlebutt had it that older local boys had jumped the fence and run across the graveyard at midnight as a test of bravery. (I never knew anyone who had actually done so, but there was talk.) We thought about it and passed stories when we walked past, and always walked a little faster past it after the sun had set - the idea of ghosts was bad enough. The idea of ghosts of insane people was much worse.

In reality, the cemetery became more and more dilapidated as the years went on and the neighborhood deteriorated, and many of the poor souls buried there were forgotten, as plot records were lost in a fire at the State Hospital. Vandalism destroyed some of the stones, and homeless people and drug users were sometimes seen on the ground. In the 1990s, the cemetery and the damaged headstones were restored, largely due to the good people at the Pioneers' Cemetery Association, devoted to restoring old cemeteries in Arizona. And we learned that the cemetery contained as least one bona fide hero - a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Isaiah Mays, a Buffalo Solder born in 1858 who passed away in 1925. (The Buffalo Soldiers were African American cavalry troops who patrolled the American west and were known for their toughness and fortitude.) He was decorated for action at Cedar Springs, Arizona in 1889. Here's a picture of Mays:

Isaiah Mays (1858 - 1925) - Find A Grave Memorial

Here's what he did:

11 May, 1889 - Arizona Territory - Major Joseph Washington Wham took charge of $28,000 in gold and silver to pay troops at various points in the Arizona Territory. While escorting the Army paymaster, two members of the 24th Infantry Regiment took heroic action to fend off a violent robbery attempt by masked cowboys. Sergeant Benjamin Brown and Corporal Isaiah Mays (both black soldiers) received the Congressional Medal of Honor for their bravery. Eight soldiers were wounded and eight of the attackers are arrested.

With gunshot wounds to his legs, Mays, a former slave, crawled two miles to a nearby cabin to seek aid for his wounded comrades. No one knows why he died in the State Hospital, but some believe he became indigent after leaving the service and being unable to secure his pension and was admitted for depression. He was buried in an unmarked grave, and after lobbying efforts by veteran organizations, finally received a headstone in the 1990s.

The cemetery (which was in use from 1888 to the early 1960s) is visible as you drive eastbound on Roosevelt Street from 24th Street, just on the east side of Maricopa County Hospital. Mays' gravesite and headstone can be viewed by entering the parking lot of the Maricopa County Hospital off of 24th Street, just south of Roosevelt, and driving as far east as you can through the lot until you reach the extreme southeast end. Park at the end of the lot, near the covered spaces. Corporal Isaiah May's grave can be seen through the fence bordering the hospital grounds, with a chained border and American flags. Flowers or a small flag on Memorial Day would be a nice way to honor him.

A list of graves is at:

Crosscut Cemetery

Crosscut Cemetery, 47th Street and Milton:

When I was attending East High School in the mid-1970s, a popular student hangout at lunchtime and after school was the Circle K just south of the school. On the backside was a small cemetery, surrounded by a low fence. One of the more bizarre memories I have from high school (there are many) was when a classmate wrote a story on the cemetery for the high school paper, and his faculty advisor chose to "punch up" the story by having the school cheerleaders pose around the tombstones in their cheer uniforms with their poms. Even in my most disaffected sullen teen-age phase, I found that disturbing.

Crosscut Cemetery was in use from 1879 to 1949. It's still there, now surrounded by a higher storm fence, but easily viewable from the road. Turn west on Milton from 48th street (just north of Van Buren) - the cemetery is on Milton and 47th Street. Sadly, it has not been as well maintained as the Arizona State Hospital Cemetery.

A list of the known graves is at:

Crosscut Cemetery

Sotelo-Heard Ranch Cemetery, SE corner of 12th Street and Broadway

From 1896 to 1923, this cemetery served the Valley's Hispanic community, including many victims of the Spanish Influenza epidemic. Most of the headstones are gone (some have been preserved at Pioneer and Military Memorial Cemetery downtown.)

A website devoted to documenting and preserving the cemetery is at:

Heard Sotelo Cemetery - Historic Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona c.1896-1923

The Pioneer's Cemetery Association (PCA) websites lists all closed and abandoned (as well as active) cemetery sites in the state, as well as their preservation efforts:

Historic Cemeteries of Arizona
 
Old 03-14-2009, 02:55 PM
 
712 posts, read 1,073,586 times
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Default The Mysterious Date Palm Oasis of Phoenix.

#3 in a series: The Mysterious Date Palm Oasis of Phoenix:

Most of the ubiquitous palm trees you see around the Valley are fan palms, but there are some date palms - you can tell the difference as the fronds are longer and narrower. Date palms look like the type of palm trees you see around oases in the middle east (at least, in my mind's eye.)

In an older 3-block neighborhood with comparatively small houses and lots in the Arcadia area of Phoenix, (sometimes called the Arcadia Date Palm neighborhood), there is a huge concentration of date palms, certainly the greatest in the state - every house seems to have at least 3 or 4 enormously high date palms crowded into the front and probably an equal number in the back yard. Some of the palms have knocked chunks out of brick walls as they have grown. Driving through the neighborhood, the viewer has the sense that the houses were already built when date palms just started springing up like alien invaders in a sci-fi movie. You wouldn't be surprised to see some palms growing through the roofs of the houses.

I've never heard a good explanation of the neighborhood - it almost appears to be an overgrown date palm orchard, with houses built around it. Some residents of the neighborhood attempted at one point to have the neighborhood declared a historic landmark, to prevent any of the palms being cut down, but I don't think anything came of it.

It's located just off of 44th Street, between Camelback Road and Indian School Road. To see the neighborhood, turn west on Campbell Avenue and drive 1 block, turning left (south) at Kachina Park onto 42nd Street, then make the first left onto Sells Drive. Follow Sells east until it curves around and becomes 43rd Place, turn right onto Roma Avenue, then follow Roma west back to 42nd Street and take it north back up to Campbell. Hang a right and Campbell will take you back out to 44th Street.
 
Old 03-14-2009, 08:53 PM
 
Location: Mesa
27 posts, read 98,975 times
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Well I know this wouldnt qualify as single spots that may be weird but I have gotten into whats called Geo Caching. It requires a (portable) GPS unit and some coordinates. There are millions upon millions of caches around the world. Some of the spots are extremely weird. Give it a try you just might enjoy being a kid again.
 
Old 08-16-2009, 12:37 PM
 
Location: AZ
1,382 posts, read 2,539,018 times
Reputation: 630
I had to bump this because I'm curious on some more odd or lesser known things in the Phoenix area.
 
Old 08-17-2009, 05:25 AM
 
712 posts, read 1,073,586 times
Reputation: 702
Sorry, I haven't been keeping up on this...I'll post some soon.
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